Saturday, November 10, 2007

Eye of the elephant

In the world of Olympic skeet shooting there is an old saying... "Don't aim at the elephant... aim for his eye." What it means is don't get distracted by the whole picture but in fact become intimitate with it. In this case it means, don't just drive thru Mexico but take the time to really take an intimate look at what it is you're experiencing. In other words, take time to stop and smell the roses or tequilla if you will.

As we accompanied the Coyote Convoy on our way south we made a welcome layover in an amazing village called San Miguel de Allende. As Gerie led us thru some disgusting little back street with enough topes to loosen even the strongest fillings I began to ask myself why in the world I ever let him talk me into coming. The road was barely (literly) wide enough for my trailer let alone the oncoming trucks that gave no mercy. If you went off the road here the good news was you would have time to attempt a repair for this would be home for the next two awesome days. As things turned out the joke was on us as that disgusting litle road led us into an oasis made of dreams.

San Miguel de Allende is a historic town founded in 1542 that has become an attractive tourist destination for wealthy Mexico City residents and has a large American and Canadian expatriate community comprised primarily of retirees and is a relatively flat region about 7,000 ft above sea level surrounded by mountains.

The town was founded in 1542 by the Franciscan monk Fray Juan de San Miguel. It was an important stopover on the Antiguo Camino Real, part of the silver route from Zacatecas. The town featured prominently in the Mexican War of Independence. General Ignacio Allende, one of San Miguel's native sons, was a leading player in the war against Spain for independence. Allende, captured in battle and beheaded, is a national hero. San Miguel el Grande renamed itself "San Miguel de Allende" in 1826 in honor of his actions.

By 1900, San Miguel de Allende was in danger of becoming a ghost town but in the early 20th Century, the family fortune of the Lopez Escobedo brothers and sisters was largely donated to schools for girls, convents for nuns, or lost to older distant relatives and people helped by the family who falsified papers or discovered hidden treasure after Don Ezequiel's sudden stroke and death. The impoverished barkeeper's assistant who found Don Ezequiel's property deeds and gold kept the find from Don Ezequiel's widow and five children who suffered hardships as orphans. The barkeeper's assistant had leased the store at Calle Relox and San Francisco Street from Don Ezequiel's widow and in the abundant inventory found more than could have been imagined.

The people of San Miguel de Allende opened their arms and gave us a welcome we would never forget. The churches, buildings, panoramic views, food, shopping, music and yes even the late night spent in the discos better known as Mama Mia's are etched into our minds as places that need to be returned to.

While we were in town there was a fund raiser to raise money for school children. Gerie Bledso had let us know ahead of time so that we were able to bring cases of paper, pens and pencils to give to them. The same evening as the fund raiser many of us met up with Estudaintina at the Mirador (or Band of Students) who took a group of us from our hotel on a walking tour down thru the winding cobblestone streets until we reached the main square singing all the way. When we left there were only about 20 of us but by the time we reached the square there were many more as locals joined in. We even had the company of a motorcycle police officer for crowd control and a wonderful dressed up donkey and his handler. I had to laugh when I saw a replica San Francisco street car go driving by.

The following day was spent in the main square right in front of one of the most beautiful churches in the world as we displayed our cars in a place that is never open to autos. The morning after as we left I was not sad at all because I knew this was a place that I positivily return to some day and if this was just a taste of Mexico (the elephant) I couldn't wait to get back on the road again. Besides Gerie had arranged things so that two gals from Sweden would be traveling the rest of the trip with Will and I. One of these gals was none other than Anna Sorenson the navigator for world class Ralf Christensson driver of the Historic C class Monte Carlo Falcon both awesome individulas and a real pleasure to have met.

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